CD Review

13 Mg. - Two Releases

By Marcus Pan

13 MG13mg seems to have disbanded. Their website, www.13mg.com, seems to have gone the way of the electronic wind and done so long before I ever found them - which is sad because they produce a very enjoyable, raw, hard-hitting sound. I really am upset about this - you see every month when I gear up to put together the next batch of review CDs and start screening them for format, worth reviewing, etc. I come across one or two that I really enjoy and would consider going to see, purchasing material from them for my enjoyment, etc. And this is the first time that the band of the month for me seems to have popped like a bubble. The only things they've left behind that I have been able to find are vague references to them at their previous label, SlipDisc Records, and a defunct page where there was supposed to be a listing of releases by them. Which sucks - their legacy, as far as I've been lucky enough to find, are the two releases in my hands right now: Trust & Obey (1995) and Eternacate (1997). I hope disappearances of good bands like this isn't a sign of things to come - I might wrap it up and die miserable.

Trust and ObeyFirst on the agenda for this dual-CD review is to allay your fears. Yes, Slipdisc Records is known for their speed metal thrash bands a la Voivod, Nihil and their ilk. However, 13mg strays from the growly speed-metal ("Blarg blarg boo scary blarg!") sound and keeps to a more electronic, albeit guitar-lead, sound. It's ripe with electronic hooks, modified (without over-voxing) vocals and slammable stomp-style industrial riffs. Begun in 1993, 13mg is (was?) lead by H. Beno, musical mastermind who's performed editing & programming for Ministry (in the Psalm 69 days) and has turned out excellent remixes of work by Jesus & Mary Chain, Chemlab and more. Joining him in the early days of 13mg is Joe Callahan and Max Edgin on guitars, the former originally from Chicago band Hip Deep Trilogy and the latter bringing with him experience from days playing with Pigface. Brian Sarche' plays bass and adds to the heavy guitars when necessary and Felix Miklik pounds the skins. Felix has also helped out such acts as Armageddon Dildos and Sister Machine Gun. Impressed yet? Well here's more. Their debut release is 1995's Trust & Obey, and Lie In State from this album has garnered much attention from an appearance in the somewhat recent techno-classic movie "Strange Days." With such an impressive line up of musicians and attention from the silver screen, where then did they go? I can only hope and assume they've moved on to bigger and better musical things.

Trust & Obey
13mg's debut release in 1995 is impressive. It's a rather heavy sound and is one of the strongest initial releases from any band I've heard in quite some time. It culled in help in its creation from Brian Leisgang who helped write it - you might know him from his current incarnation, Filter. The album kicks off with Guardian Angel, a song I was familiar with both from my earlier club days (oh, the stomping I have done - if my boots could talk) and from a recent mix tape sent to me by Jett Black (Nocturnal Movements promotion). Guardian Angel is fairly well-known and probably needs no introduction - but if there was a better way to start an album than with the moody, riff-ridden, stomp-ass sound I'd like someone to show me.

Now that I've cleaned up the coffee spill caused by bouncing around to Guardian Angel, we can continue. Next comes Uppercut, a squalling song with lyrics set against more fast guitars courtesy of Joe and Max. The song has a few breakdowns laden with feedback, yowling screams and strong riffs. Also here is the quasi-electronic Lie in State, with its moody, slow and grooving bass. This is the one that I've mentioned above as being featured in "Strange Days," a movie surrounding the end of the millennium and a new silicon-based virtual reality drug; similar in theme to the recent television series "Tek War." Lie in State is a whispered and moody song with warped electronic-laced vocals and slow chord keyboards to help with the futuristic and dark mood. There are a lot of flicks this song would go along well with I think. Throughout Trust & Obey 13mg maintains a well-balanced, heavy guitar sound with industrial flourishes and electronic flair. It's reminiscent of earlier work by Front Line Assembly and the like.

EternacateEternacate
The sound of Eternacate is a bit different than their previous release. Cornelius Boon joins H. Beno and gang here, presumably to replace Brian Sarche' who's name doesn't appear. This album also received production help from Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb fame. The guitars are there, but seem to be more controlled and mature of a sound than the raucous roar of Trust & Obey. This time 13mg puts more into the electronic/keyboard side of their music. For example, Careless, the second track on the album, has the powerful guitar sound, but it is more chord-centric than riff-roaring. The vocals are more instrumental with whispering slides and there's a more apparent electro-bass background that, while unchanging, keeps the song grooving. The Secret is a slower song that is riddled with interesting rhymes with an off the cuff vocal style. Track 6, Repentance, has a Die-Warzauish industrial sound with choppy guitars and slap-sounding bass lines.

13mg provides a refreshing industrial guitar oriented groove. Granted I'm a bit behind the times with this review of their work, but upon discovering them I couldn't resist trying to push their brand of musical euphoria on whoever cares to read this. I enjoyed Trust & Obey a bit more than Eternacate - I think it's the extra adrenaline they've laced the tracks there with. That is not to say that Eternacate is any less of an album. Both are awesome collections of hard-hitting grooves, riff-roaring guitars and laden with enough stomping beats and sounds to keep any rivethead moving. I really enjoy the work and legacy of 13mg. Pass me the needle…

Contact Information:
Web: http://www.slipdisc.com/13mg/index.html
E-Mail: lieinstate@aol.com

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